The Carolina Panthers have designated tight end Ian Thomas for return from injured reserve. He hasn’t played since Week 5 because of a calf sprain. Before he can return to the active roster, he has to practice with the team in the next three weeks.
The Carolina Panthers drafted Thomas in 2018.
Carolina drafted Ian Thomas in the 4th round, 101st overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was the sixth tight end taken. He signed a 4-year, $3,207,994 rookie contract, a $747,994 signing bonus, and $747,994 guaranteed.
Thomas appeared in every game and started in six, recording 36 receptions for 333 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season, representing 50% of offensive snaps.
Thomas appeared in every game and started in three, recording 16 receptions for 136 yards and one touchdown in his second season, representing 27% of offensive snaps.
Thomas appeared in every game and started in eight, recording 20 receptions for 145 yards and one touchdown in his third season, representing 65% of offensive snaps.
Thomas appeared in every game and started in 13, recording 18 receptions for 188 yards in his fourth season, representing 61% of snaps.
Carolina extended him in 2022.
Thomas agreed to a 3-year, $16.95 million extension, a $5 million signing bonus, and $8 million guaranteed on February 25, 2022. Thomas started every game last season, recording 21 receptions for 197 yards, representing 55% of offensive snaps.
Carolina signed a veteran TE during the 2023 offseason.
After spending his first five seasons in the NFL with three teams, the Panthers signed Hayden Hurst to a 3-year, $21.75 million contract on March 13, 2023.
Thomas competed with Hurst for playing time.
Hurst and Thomas competed for the starting tight end spot to start the season. Hurst won the starting spot, and Thomas served as the primary blocker to start the season.
Thomas has appeared in five games and started in two, recording two receptions for 36 yards, representing 24% of offensive snaps.
Who stepped up for Thomas?
Former third-round pick Tommy Tremble has filled in for the injured Thomas for the last four games. He has 11 receptions for 73 yards and two touchdowns, representing 35% of offensive snaps.
The Panthers also relied more on Hayden Hurst. Hurst has 18 receptions for 184 yards and one touchdown, representing 51% of offensive snaps.
Designating Thomas came at the right time.
Designating Thomas for return came at the right time because Hurst is in the concussion protocol. There is a possibility that Hurst could miss Week 11.
Thomas was a limited participant during Wednesday’s practice. Since he practiced with the team already, he can be activated off injured reserve.
Expect Ian Thomas to start at tight end if Hayden Hurst can’t make it for Week 11 against the Dallas Cowboys.
Thomas has one more season with the Carolina Panthers and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2024 season.
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